This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Oh, guess what? Today was another day of outrageous stress and racing against the clock and being interrupted.
I had the usual five minutes of hopefulness this morning that things would calm down, but clearly that was just a delusion left over from all my lovely dreams.
I dreamed I was about to die in a tsunami, by the way. And to save myself I ran into my bedroom and locked the door.
Do I even have to state the obvious metaphor?
Ralph offered to take me out to breakfast 30 seconds after I put breakfast on the table. So much for timing.
At some point he said we should run to the bakery but that was also the point at which the heavens rained down angry buckets and the weather station put out a “stay home or die” alert.
I had ideas for my word today. Ideas I will surely use on another day. But not today.
Today I’m just going to stop right here and tell you that the word is, was, and shall remain cookies.
I did it.
I bought the stupid cookies.
It was a Groundhog Day sale. Groundhog Day, like the movie, where everything keeps happening over and over and no matter what you do it never seems to change anything.
I bought the cookies.
And someone whose job it is to go out in the rain brought them to me, and I tipped my gratitude.
Do you know what’s good about cookies?
Having them. Not even eating them. Just having them sit there and knowing that you could eat them whenever you want to.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate them. Just one. Because knowing they will be there tomorrow is good enough for now.
So now that I’ve got that out of my system maybe I can stop thinking about them, talking about them, writing about them and boring the general world to tears about them.
I should mention that I also ate a second one, because I made myself a cup of tea and that’s how evenings work, you pour a cup of tea and eat a cookie and write a blog and forget that the day just happened.
You know what tomorrow is?
I have no idea, but there will be a cookie in it.
You ever get a piece of a song stuck in your head and then walk around all day singing the same line? You know, Groundhog Day style. Today I got a little bit of Sesame Street stuck in my head. I bet I don’t even have to tell you what it is but I bet you’re going to start humming it around the house now. You’re welcome.
Since I finally succumbed, we might as well give cookies their due. So here’s to the chocolate chip kind, and the thumbprint kind with jelly in the middle. Here’s to the ones you wrap around a caramel or a Hershey kiss, and the cutout kind you roll out with a rolling pin then decorate with sprinkles.
Cutout cookies are a staple in my family. Since forever as long as I can remember, my mother would bake cutout cookies with onetwothreefourfivesix of us, depending on how many there were at any given time, not just sometimes but for every single holiday. It was my Aunt Rosie’s recipe, who got it from Aunt Sally, who got it from Martha in the building.
During the course of writing this I had to stop for a moment to ask my mother where the recipe originated because somehow I’ve eaten these cookies all my life and never really known.
I do know that the family pumpkin pie recipe comes from Aunt Germaine, who, like everyone back in the day, wrote it out longhand to share. She punctuated it with, “Good luck.”
Martha from the building’s cookies are basic sugar cookies except they have more flour than most typical sugar cookies so they come out fat and soft.
There were only ever two rolling pins in my family, in spite of there being half a dozen of us baking at once. There was a wooden rolling pin and a plastic one. And everyone hated the plastic one and everyone wanted to use the wooden one. So in reality, there was only ever one rolling pin in my family, and never would another be purchased.
I suppose we did learn to share and take turns.
Every holiday, out came the eggs and flour and colored sugars and cookie cutters. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween.
We had cookie cutters in shapes to match every occasion, stars and hearts and pumpkins, Santa Claus hats, reindeer, bunnies. Pick a shape, we had it. Pick a colored sugar, we used it. Plus sprinkles and red hots and other decorations as may have been required to design the perfect bite.
We rolled, cut, decorated, snuck raw dough to eat, licked the spoon, baked and then piled cookies up into a mountain on a plate. They always got topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Or, to be more accurate, enough powdered sugar to choke you to death if you tried to breathe while eating them.
Other important things about cookies in my family: we were only ever allowed to eat three in a day.
And one day a year – Christmas – we got to eat cookies for breakfast.
To this day my mother bakes cutout cookies for every holiday. Now she does it with her grandson.
Do you know what I have never once made in my entire adult life?
A cutout cookie.
I don’t even have the recipe.
It’s one of those things that doesn’t belong to me, that only works if you eat them when mom makes them.
The night Ralph proposed to me, I arrived back home to find a plate on the kitchen table with two cutout cookies. While I was out dining and riding through Central Park on a horse drawn carriage, my mother was doing what my mother does, and cutting out cookies. They were in the shape of teddy bears, decorated to perfection.
Maybe my obsession with cookies is less about cookies and more about love. They are little blobs of freshly baked love, rolled, dropped, pressed, wrapped, and delivered with care.
They are also about the stress-eating, but it’s more than that. It’s a lifelong history where cookies played a starring role, in sets of three.
Maybe it’s just my inner child reaching out for mommy to tell me that everything will be ok, the tsunami is gone, the monsters under the bed aren’t real, and yes, even the worst days will end eventually.
In the meantime, it never hurts to have a cookie.
Photo: a few of the cookies mom bakes every Christmas.